2019 has turned brands into media companies. But who’s in charge of programming your brand channels?

Many production companies, agencies and freelancers offer to produce a company’s content.

However one of the things they don’t offer is taking that content further – and programming the content for the client’s channels – and on other channels such as TV or SVOD. Media will offer to do this on their network – which is great, except it’s only on one platform and your audience doesn’t live on one platform.

When I was at MediaCom Beyond Advertising, we produced Air Rescue which was a fantastic example of the client, media agency, production company and our team working perfectly together. Here’s a case study from series 3. We produced the series for the network and the brand’s channels all at the same time to ensure maximum exposure.

Many people don’t appreciate how challenging it is for networks or SVOD platforms to programme (not just curate) their content. Here’s how SBS programmers think. 

A branded content TV or podcast (aka, hero) series is going to be an expensive and serious commitment — so before you start, knowing who to involve is important to your success. If you’re thinking of creating anything like this, here are three things to think about from a programming perspective: 

Is our series worth watching / listening to?

If you’re making a TV show or a podcast, it’s more expensive than producing some website or youtube content for many reasons, but you’re doing this for an audience to engage – so it needs to be really great which takes people and time. And courage.

Standing out is getting a lot harder for brands . Here’s a couple of schools of thought:

  • Produce a familiar style show and do it bigger, better and a bit different. Networks piggy-back genres all the time – which is why you can see multiple singing shows, renovation shows and cooking shows around the same time. In Podcasts, “How I Built This” started a podcast genre – the successful person interview show. If you’re going to do to this, do it huge with a twist, that works for the audience and the brand.
  • Do something completely different. A soap company producing a drama (or a ‘soap’). A beer company producing a footy comedy show. If you choose this approach spend time and money on development so that when you approach the networks it’s ready. 

Involve an Executive Producer or TV producer who has dealt with network programmers or sold shows. Get multiple paid opinions. Don’t just trust your gut because you’ve watched TV once before. 

What are our goals? (not just reach)

If you know what (all) your goals are before you start and plan accordingly, the benefits will outweigh the costs.

If you want to reach 1 million people, then producing a TV show could be great for your brand. If you want to teach six hundred people how to hang a door, then probably not. 

However, if you want to teach 1 million people how to hang a door, paint a room, renovate a kitchen and build a granny flat, then of course it may be very worthwhile because not only do you have a TV show for mass appeal, you have lots of bite sized content to attract as niche audience that you can use as part of your Hero / Hub / Help content ecosystem, provided you own the show and the rights to do this.

An important question to ask is: has the distribution plan (strategy and budget) been approved prior to production? Do this before you start. Involving the client’s media agency early is important for the success of the project and avoiding headaches later. Creative and PR, and any other relevant agencies too. If your client is working on a project like this and they ask your opinion and you’re not involved – make sure you get paid for your opinion but give an unbiased one, if possible.

Agency collaboration on a project like this is mandatory and needs a client, and lead agency, to make it happen.   

Should our company produce a big project like this? 

Yes – you should. People are watching more TV / video than ever. Video works for brands. Podcasts are massively on the rise – and they work too.

Producing long form content provides you with production economies of scale and allows you to tell a much bigger story – one that you can’t when making a few videos at a time. And another plus – the costs associated with distributing a TV series on a network can be far cheaper than running a massive ad campaign…

Audiences are demanding exceptional TV series and Podcasts, and will happily watch & listen to branded work, so long as it’s awesome. And – not an “Ad” for your company.

Does your brand need programming help? Here are 4 quick questions:

  • Are you struggling to stand out from your competitors? 
  • Do you, or one of your CSR partners, do something amazing for the community?
  • Does someone in your team understand long form video / audio production?
  • Do you have a great project manager who’s led a big project before?

If you answered yes, yes, yes/no, no. Ask for some help. 

Have a producer explain the process, mechanics and timeline. There’s a lot that happens when you make TV or podcasts, and it’s a team effort.  

Considering how your company programs its content will give you a competitive advantage – you’ll be in market for longer, at far less cost, to a greater audience who’s paying attention to your brand. Isn’t that why you’re making content?